By Waliyulah Olayide
Imagine you opened a shopping mall. The name and popularity of your mall have attracted potential buyers.
Entering your mall, you knew a visiting prospect would be persuaded to buy a thing or two.
Alas, your entrance is waterlogged with the rain that fell the other day!
What will a potential buyer do?
Even if your mall had the best stock in town, it won’t matter. A potential customer, disgusted, will likely pretend that they forgot something in the car, turn back and leave your mall — for good.
Your article is like that. As a freelancer, business owner or an entrepreneur who has a great message to pass to your audience.
You can’t afford to begin your article poorly.
While a promising headline grabs your reader’s attention, your article introduction has to sustain it.
At a time when there’s over 1 billion websites on the internet and each is striving to gain prominence, you need to grab your readers’ attention fast and sustain it.
In this article, I will show you 5 killer ways to begin your introduction and arrest your audience’s attention as backed by science.
- Begin By Asking A Personal Question
In 2015, a research was carried out by Stanford University involving three adults to find out what goes on in the brain when people are asked personal and non-personal questions.
They discovered that answering personal questions activates a unique brain activity pattern in the participants.
By asking personal questions, you’re engaging millions of brain neurons. As a writer, use this unique feature. Begin with a simple, personal and interesting question.
The question: “Can you become a genius?” is more interesting, for instance, than the statement: “You can become a genius.”
- Begin With A Logically Conflicting Statement
In the realm of logical consistency and contradiction, lead psychologist Randolph Mayers argues that, like deductive reasoning, the fact that an argument is logically consistent isn’t always interesting.
If for instance you begin with this statement:
“Nigeria, being the powerhouse of Africa in terms of a thriving economy has the majority of her populace living in affluence and riches.”
The above statement is logically consistent which makes it uninteresting. Or was it not? Read again.
On the contrary, if you write:
“Although Nigeria is adjudged the powerhouse of Africa as the largest country with the most robust economy, yet, a 2012 report by National Bureau of Statistics(NBS) revealed that more than 71.5 percent of Nigerians are relatively poor and poverty strives within its populace so much that a staggering 61.2 percent of her citizenry were living on less than 1 dollar per day at the end of 2010.”
Which of the two statements would you go for? The latter, I guess.
“When people speak in a way that seems logically contradictory,” says Randolph, “it is often just because they are not speaking completely or clearly.” So, readers will want completeness and clarity. And that will compel them to finish your article.
So next time, give your introduction a kick in the butt. Begin with a logically conflicting fact!
- Begin With A Shocking Fact
Did you know that you can be inspired just by inhaling rotten smells? No! Not scent. Not perfume. ODOR!
A report in psychobiology has revealed that you can alter your electroencephalogram (EEG) (electrical activity in your brain) with odor administration. In fact, a renowned writer and poet by the name Schiller did just that as he was known to keep rotten apples under the lid of his desk and inhaled their rotten smell when he needed to find the right words.
A fact, if appropriately used, is enough of an attention-grabber in your introduction. Make it a shocking fact again and it becomes a double-edged sword.
- Begin With An Interesting Analogy
Analogy explores the similarities between two dissimilar things and uses the familiarity of one to explain the other.
Hypothesis and theories are the basis of science, yet they need analogy at the initial stage. The Physicist N. R. Campbell writes:
“…in order that a theory may be valuable, it must display an analogy. The proposition of the hypothesis must also be analogous to some known laws.”
Hence, no matter what your message is to your audience, analogy can be a great way to introduce it.
Analogies explain or clarify an unfamiliar concept by comparing it to a familiar one. Persuade your readers to a novel point of view by likening it with an already understood point of view.
“Automobiles require inspection and maintenance by a qualified mechanic. Like cars, you and I require routine examination by a qualified physician.”
How did I begin this article? Did it grab your attention?
- Begin With A Good Story
The doctor cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, but I have bad news.”
He paused, looking down at the floor. He looked back up at her. He started to say something and then stopped, looking back down at the floor.
That’s when Pat began to cry. Her baby was a year old, and he hadn’t started crawling yet.
“Your son has a neuromuscular disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy,” the doctor said.
“What’s going to happen to him?” she managed to say.
“Where most children grow stronger as they get older, your son is going to get weaker.”
The above was how one of the most popular bloggers on the net, Jon Morrow, the dude who makes over $100,000 monthly blogging, began the article that got him so much fame on the internet. It attracted millions of page views just moments of publishing it.
Interestingly, Jon confessed he stole the write-your-article-powerfully-with-a-good-story style from his then boss, Brian Clark of Copyblogger because the latter’s article also made a great read and shook the internet. Since then, Jon has been known to use this style every now and then. And it has never failed him.
You might ask? What is so special about stories that make people love them so much?
In 2013 an experiment was conducted by Scientist Paul J. Zak to uncover how stories shape our brains and move us to empathy. It revealed that when we read stories, a hormone is secreted in our brain called oxytocin.
This hormone is responsible for our emotional simulation.
Since human beings are social animals, such a neural mechanism keeps us safe but also allows us to rapidly form relationships with a wider set of members of our species than any other animals do.
Use this unique story loving feature of people to your advantage the next time you write.
In conclusion, I have shown you five killer ways to begin an article none can sneer at and few can be immune to. Now, you can choose to finish off this article with no action but just the feeling that you’ve read a great piece. Or you can use each of the tactics shared to write your own articles, right now. A knowledge used is knowledge gained. The choice is yours.
What is your favorite method of grabbing readers’ attention? Why not share them with me in the comment session below.
Waliyulah is a Copywriter and Online Coach. You can catch him on WhatsApp here where he shares actionable tips and stories on his WhatsApp status.